I’m not the only one who does it, right? When in times of trouble, sorrow, pain (to be honest, times of joy and boredom too), I reach for a book. Not just any book but a ‘comfort’ book. An old friend who has brought love, life and learning to my world.
When I was very young, Toad and Frog always made me feel better – and there was nothing the Sneetches couldn’t teach ya. Anger or frustration made me reach for the Little House books and their tranquility. Adolescent angst gave me the greats (Blume, Danizger, Peck, etc.).
Now when I feel lost, out of control or just in need a of a good cup of tea I go to Christie or Wentworth. The need for love and laughter takes me to Andrews. A good scare where good wins takes me to Snyder. Oh, I visit all my friends often – from Snicket to Rowling, Van Draanen to L’Engle, Grafton to Hess…heck, I could type for hours and not get them all listed.
I think I’ll go read a book.
Yesterday I conducted a very unofficial and hugely informal user test to see how the young ones search. I explained to my subject that there were no wrong answers, I just wanted to see and learn how non-professionals search. I’m way too far removed from the experience; as with cataloging I cannot help but know the path to follow. The following is what happened [note I am not naming names because that makes it seem so much more official]
Subject was (and is, I suppose) a recent college graduate. I provided a topic and asked “please find two peer reviewed articles and one book that you might use as a source as if you were writing a paper on the impact of Jimmy Carter’s presidency”. I asked “please go to your library website to start the search”.
Subject went to unnamed university library website, logged in [yay still worked after graduating!] and put in search terms. What search terms? Subject typed “jimmy carter impact” in the search box provided. No Boolean, no truncation. Subject did not use any of the limiters available (such as ‘limit to peer reviewed’). Results were quickly scanned. Anything of interest went into a new browser window to review. At one point subject stumbled on google scholar and asked “WHERE HAS THIS BEEN THE LAST FOUR YEARS?” I explained the history, basically been around since 2004. Groans met my explanation, subject noted “knowing this would have been very useful!”.
I watched the subject go outside the library website for each item of interest. Subject took any citation of interest (actually, just the title) to the open web to find it. Once found, subject scanned the content quickly to see if it would answer her “impact of jimmy carter’s presidency”. Subject never varied search terms nor used any other tool on the library site.
I asked “what does peer reviewed mean?” Subject noted this meant “a scholarly article”. Uhm, yeah, sort of …
I asked “if you had to cite an article found in APA style, how would you do it?” . Subject went to a new browser window and opened the Purdue OWL site, explaining this was the site used since high school.
As we finished, I showed the subject the features on the unnamed university library site where the limiters, citation builder, etc. all reside. I noted these are all within the areas the search began but were skipped/ignored. I further explained that all the full text that had been ‘discovered’ on the open web were due to the library purchase – because the subject logged in to the library website, the proxy took effect and full text was found. Subject was astonished and wondered why this was not shown to students. I asked if they had any library instruction – “well in one class we were shown JSTOR”. I asked why the library site was not used more, subject said “I’ve just always done it like this”.
Now, is this typical? I have no idea. I just asked one person to do this and had no formal method of testing. It does make me wonder though and and pushes me to the belief that library instruction needs to be part of the school experience – from kindergarten on up really, with new bits and parts each year to build upon, like we do with grammar, math, etc…
Print has been on my mind and apparently on others too…Two stories strike me:
NASIG‘s recent conference in Albuquerque had a session “E-books for the Classroom & Open Access Textbooks: Two ways to help students save money on textbooks” which [full disclosure] I did not attend. However, one of my colleagues did and told me about it. Sounds great – basically the University of South Florida noticed the extremely high costs of textbooks and looked at ways to solve this. Fantastic! Their way seems to be moving in an “e” direction. I understand this, providing the “e” is cheaper but …most students are saying they prefer print to e. Check it out: Tech Times, Washington Post, Education Week. I would love to see a session bringing that into the mix of cost and access. What would you do as a poor student?
Lately on Serialst there has been a lovely discussion which confirms the move away from print serials to electronic. Some noted that they are retaining print due to:
- unavailable electronically
- cannot afford the electronic version
- continuing historic collection / preservation
Again cost rears up. Isn’t it interesting that print is cheaper for journals but more expensive for books? Also, here we have preservation coming up – students note that having the print textbook is something they can markup and keep for future consultation. You can do markup in the e too, or so my apps tell me, but they prefer print. And then we have preservation …
Paper. It lasts and lasts doesn’t it?
Do you follow George Takei on Facebook or Twitter? Who knew Sulu had such a humor? Or that George had such a background? He was one of many in the shameful Japanese Internment camps in the USA during World War II. In fact, the play Allegiance is based on the internment camps (not about George but the he is in it).
A recent post on George’s Facebook was in honor of Bob Fletcher who was one of the many unsung heroes of the time. He saved some of the farms that were being snatched from the rightful owners during this dark period of USA history.
Another beautiful person is Clara Breed, a San Diego Children’s librarian. I read the very extraordinary collection of letters, Dear Miss Breed, some years ago. Now you can view and read the some of the letters online from the Japanese American National Museum. She worked hard to get books and materials and just plain ol’love and acceptance to the kids in those camps. She also worked to get them out of the camps.
Love trumps hate. There will always be people working to right wrongs, helping those in need, protesting against injustice. And yes, there will be people creating the wrongs, ignoring the needs, and encouraging injustice. But in the end, good does triumph over evil. Always.
Have you ever seen the old Perry Mason series? The original black and white episodes with Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, and William Hopper? I was home with a broken limb over the holidays, started watching and quickly was addicted. Since then I have DVR’d the episodes to watch as I work out in the morning. Older shows are perfect for the morning work out since they lasted longer – episodes were 49 to 52 minutes each, leaving only 8 to 11 minutes for commercials (new shows today last only 40 to 46 minutes for the hour slot). Besides, it is rather fun to spot-the-future-star (Burt Reynolds, Barbara Eden, James Coburn)!
Anyway, back to Perry! The episode was The Case of the Bogus Books from September 27, 1962. That’s nearly 50 years ago.
The plot centered around, of course, a murder. Who was murdered? A nefarious book seller! Why nefarious? He had a successful venture stealing rare first editions from libraries and resell them! Just listening and watching the “Lady Librarian” (honest, that was how she was billed in the credits) and the Curator (not billed as “Male Curator” but just “Curator”) was both illuminating and strangely familiar. They discovered several libraries were missing the rare first editions of books – replaced by “worthless” third and fourth editions. Turns out the … oh wait, you probably want to watch it. I ought not ruin it for you.
I do love it when I find my profession in old movies, books, TV shows, etc. I like seeing how each generation viewed us. How the authors twist and turn our profession! Seeing this makes me think, did the stereotype come from popular culture or did popular culture reflect reality of the time? Regardless, it is rather nice to be thought of as very smart, very organized, and often, very sexy (I could live without the shhh thing though).